Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez affectionately refers to his bench players as his “B-Squad” or “Bomb Squad” and after Tuesday night’s thrilling come from behind victory that finished close to midnight, he stated that they would be playing prominent roles in Wednesday’s early afternoon game, as starters received much deserved rest.
Bench players are usually the guys who are second tier players, not good enough to start, but Gonzalez’s bench guys have played well all season, in some cases better than the regulars.
While the Braves at times struggle to score, the Bomb Squad was once again up to the task Wednesday afternoon against the Twins, as catcher Evan Gattis crashed a grand slam home run, shortstop Ramiro Pena went 2 for 5 with a homer, third baseman Chris Johnson raised his average to a team-leading .350 with a 2 for 3, and center fielder Jordan Schafer reached base three times with a hit and two walks.
Johnson talked about the Bomb Squad after the game, “We all know that every piece on this team is a big piece, especially in the National League. Whether you are starting,or on the bench, you are going to get into the game and have to contribute at some point. We have a good group of guys, everybody has a good head on their shoulders, and wants to compete every time they get in there.”
Schafer is now hitting .309 on the season, with a .423 on-base-percentage and a team-leading six stolen bases. Pena is hitting .286 with a .348 on-base-percentage while playing great defense, and Gattis is second on the team with 10 homers,and 28 RBIs. They are all playing like A players and would most likely be starting for other major league teams if given the opportunity.
After Gattis’ heroics Tuesday night, when he hit a pinch-hit homer with two outs to tie the game, Gonzalez said that he has to find ways to get Gattis into more games. The way his bench guys are playing, Gonzalez might have to find ways to get them all into more games. Nice problem for a manager to have.